SECRET CEREMONY (Joseph Losey, 1968)

From Marco Denevi’s short story, Joseph Losey’s Secret Ceremony is a heady, baroque melodrama about loss. Leonora, a middle-aged prostitute, five years earlier lost her ten-year-old daughter (a drowning, the church tombstone claims). She must also have lost home and husband. Our first glimpse of her shows Leonora taking off her long, mod blonde wig […]

POLICE BEAT (Robinson Devor, 2005)

“Z,” a Senegal-born Seattle bicycle cop, worries about his girlfriend’s fidelity—his continual voiceover is in Wolof—as he responds to one bizarre crime scene after another. (The movie claims that every criminal event in the film is from Seattle police annals.)      Thin, disjointed, wearisomely repetitious, and painfully disgusting in spots.      There are one or two good […]

LE BOUCHER (Claude Chabrol, 1969)

One of Claude Chabrol’s warmest, most elegantly ambiguous films, The Butcher seamlessly blends actors and locals in the provincial village of Trémolat. A wedding and the bride’s funeral are two key fictional events largely attended by villagers, while the lead actors, in character, weave in and out of the workday world of the village.      Popaul, […]